Today I partook in the glorious invention of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. It is quite possibly one of my favorites times of the year. Definitely better than a lot of national holidays. The beauty of the tournament is the combination of infinite possibility and drama happening simultaneously. 16 games in 2 days! It’s full of surprise and impossibility.
One of the most intriguing matchups of the day was UNC-Ashville (16) vs Syracuse (1). Obviously this is a tough matchup for the overall number 2 number 1 team in the tournament, but UNC-Ashville had their fair share of meetings with top tier teams during the season. Today they played a nearly perfect game. A few too many turnovers, and could have really used another scorer, but realistically, they played about of good of a basketball game as one could expect from a 16 seed.
Upsets are a big part of the tournament, and one of the reasons why its so exciting. A 5 pretty much always gets upset by a 12, and many double digit seeds have made it to the final four. While a number two team has been upset several times before in the tournament, a number one seed has never been upset, and has only trailed at the half 7 times in over 100 games.
So, as I was saying, UNC-Ashville was playing their hearts out and doing really well. Leading and the half by 3 (?) and then holding a slight lead for the majority of the second half. And then the refs got involved. Right before the end of the first half, the refs missed a super clear goaltending call that would have put UNC-Ashville up by 5 (?) at the half, and would have had the game tied, or down one, with a few seconds to go in the game.
There was another bad call that cost them points, but I don’t remember what it was. A throw-in-no-call foul-ball-out-off-Syracuse was then returned to Syracuse. This certainly would have put the Bulldogs up by 2, but instead was returned to Syracuse. RAGE!
The last bad call that really ensured the Syracuse victory was one of the stupidest calls I’ve ever seen. On the front end of a one-and-one, a lane violation was called against the guy behind the three point line! The man in question left his position behind the 3-point line as the free throw was released and went un-impeded to the hoop and grabbed the errant free throw. But then the same idiot ref, I think it was the same at least, called a lane violation that put the shooter back on the line. Shooter makes the first, and then the second that seals the fate of UNC-Ashville.
That should be the end of my rant for the day folks. We were robbed a moment in history because of a bad ref.
That is all. Final Score: Syracuse 72 – UNC Ashville 65
EDIT: It would appear that:
The player behind the shooter apparently cannot cross the free throw line before the ball hits the rim. Related: this is still never, ever called, and letting the play go would not have affected the play. Yes, he came down with the rebound. No, Syracuse had no shot at a rebound either way. – by Brian Floyd via SB Nation